Deciphering Ray Blanco’s “Stockchain” pitch about the “Wyoming Stock Exchange”

by Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe | April 5, 2018 3:35 pm

What's being teased by Breakthrough Technology Alert? They say, "as soon as May 14, It’s Going To CHOKE Those Nasty Wolves of Wall Street."

We’ve got a big new cryptocurrency-related pitch to look at for you today, and since it’s from Ray Blanco at Agora’s Breakthrough Technology Alert, one of the most heavily-marketed newsletters around, you’ll probably see the ad soon if you haven’t already.

It’s all about what Ray Blanco calls “The Stockchain” … which is basically the next wave of blockchain adoption, as it goes from being an alt-currency story to becoming the foundational technology for all financial transactions (stock market, bond market, etc.)

And, of course, he doesn’t pull his punches when it comes to hyperbole or ridiculous “promises”… including the notion that this blockchain will quickly becoming 9,303 times bigger than every single crypto-currency as we see it ring “The Opening Bell for the Wyoming Stock Exchange.”

But let’s try to read between the lines, sift through the hype, and figure out what it is he’s actually recommending. Here’s a little taste to get you started…

“You see, the crypto-currency revolution feels like it hit us with lightning speed.

“Yet in reality, it took a full 9 years for it to all unfold, from start to finish.

“What I’ve named the Stockchain opportunity will hit much, much faster….

“The ‘Stockchain’ is what happens when the whole world’s stocks, bonds, and derivatives suddenly FLOOD the crypto blockchain.

“Just like we saw all those currencies do over the past 9 years.

“So as you can expect, it’s likely to also result in the sudden and shocking DEATH of Wall Street.”

Are you getting our free Daily Update
"reveal" emails? If not,
just click here...

He runs through a few pages of righteous anger there, which is really probably what gets those “I gotta subscribe” synapses firing — accusing Wall Street of ripping us all off since the days of the trades under the buttonwood tree.

And for just $2,000 a year for the subscription to this newsletter, you get, at least for the moment, that feeling that you might get rich… which really gets those dopamine receptors firing:

“This will make the crypto-currency revolution look like a summertime lemonade stand, run by your neighbor’s cute little first grader.

“(So whether you went ahead and dipped a toe into crypto-coins last year, or just patiently watched for for the bubble to pop, THIS is the moment you’ve been waiting for all along.)

“And yes — that simple insight could make you very, very rich.”

But now let’s move past that promise, and the daydreams of wealth, and get to exactly what he’s talking about.

It’s a stock, not an alt-currency or a special token or coin — he clearly notes that you can use any brokerage account….

“Unlike Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, it’s ridiculously easy to make the 1 Stockchain trade I’m recommending today.

“You just enter the 4 letter code I’ll give you into any major brokerage and you’re done.”

OK… so we buy a stock to get our crazy riches… which one?

The most specific clue we get is this quote, buried in the middle of the ad:

“As this venture capitalist said recently about the concept behind his revolutionary new idea, that I call the “Wyoming Stock Exchange”:

‘I think it’s a historic event. We’re opening a new type of capital market’ XXXX told Coindesk”

And this “new type of capital market” apparently already exists…

“His new exchange is ALREADY ready for business. Like a big open pipeline that’s ready to handle a FLOOD of new fuel.

“Except that fuel is PURE MONEY. And before long…

“Every financial security transaction in the entire world could flow though it.

“Supposing my latest research is as accurate as I forecast:

“Act today and you could be a millionaire by summer…”

Well sheesh, I can make you a millionaire by summer, too… you just have to pony up $995,000 or so, and I’ll turn it into a million dollars in a few months. Saying that you “could be a millionaire” without once referencing how much you’d have to invest to get that end result is specious, at best.

But anyway, who is this guy, and what do we do to invest in his technology? A few more clues…

“I believe in technology because I believe in the PEOPLE behind it…

“… the next technology supergenius isn’t always hanging out where you expect him to be….

“He made mega-bucks in the original Internet revolution that made companies like Google and Amazon into household names. He was even named Entrepreneur of the Year But he kept a low profile… and kept looking for the NEXT big thing.

“Four years ago, he found it.

“This legendary venture capitalist became the first CEO in the world to accept Bitcoin payments for the product his e-commerce company was selling at the time.

“And he quietly donated millions into the ‘open source’ community to help blockchain technology grow to what it is today.”

OK, so we don’t get a lot of other detail… but feed that to the Thinkolator, and it doesn’t take much chugging and chewing until we get a very high-probability answer: This is almost certainly a veiled recommendation to buy Overstock (OSTK).

The “technology supergenius” and the guy who was named Entrepreneur of the Year and accepted Bitcoin early and funded the open source community and hates Wall Street is Patrick Byrne, the firebrand CEO of (and son of the late (and legendary) John Byrne, of GEICO and White Mountains Insurance fame — both Byrnes worked for Warren Buffett). He’s a fascinating guy, despite the fact that Overstock has often been a disappointing retailer compared to its public peers (like, say, Amazon), well worth reading up on him if you’re interested.

Byrne’s last fight, against naked short selling a decade ago, no doubt informs his current interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain — Overstock, through its Medici subsidiary, has invested heavily in blockchain technologies in several areas, including voting and real estate and identity, but the big push right now is for their largest blockchain investment, tzero, which they describe as “blockchain meets capital markets.”

Overstock (and Medici, their blockchain subsidiary) are not Wyoming companies, they’re headquartered in Utah… but Wyoming is certainly trying to lead the way in blockchain and has made a big effort to set up a legal structure that incentivizes blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies to work in Wyoming, so perhaps some of Overstock’s investments are in that state. I didn’t dig that deep on that point.

And yes, per the teased deadline, May 14 is currently the expected close of the offering for tzero tokens… though the process has been delayed and disputed over the past six months as Overstock and tzero try to work with regulators.

You can see a pretty good explanation of the tzero blockchain in Overstock’s latest quarterly presentation here[1], and certainly tzero and Overstock have been well-covered in the press for this large ICO offering and the ambitious plans Byrne likes to talk about — there was an interview in American Banker back in January,[2] and the tzero token sale/ICO was delayed[3] for a while (and investigated by the SEC[4], which helped bring down OSTK’s share price last month).

It wasn’t just the SEC investigation that helped take some of the wind out of Overstock’s sails, though, nor was it just the falling prices of most cryptocurrencies over the past month or two, as the bloom came off the bitcoin rose. It was the fact that Overstock is still, primarily, a discount online retailer… and it’s facing huge competition, which depressed results in the holiday quarter.

That competition appears to be particularly galling for Byrne when it comes from Wayfair (W), the well-financed competitor in the key “online furniture sales” space, because Overstock, despite it’s lack of compelling financials, is a much less profligate company — they spend a lot less than Wayfair, and they have tried, so they say, to be rational in their spending and to focus on profitability, so part of the fourth quarter earnings report was basically the assertion that “we’re going to go nuts aiming for revenue growth like Wayfair and Amazon, because that’s what investors want.”

Actually, here’s the commentary in Patrick Byrne’s own words, from the earnings press release[5]…

“Our ecommerce business had its second annual pre-tax loss ($25 million) in nine years faced with a competitor called Wayfair running a pre-tax loss of $244 million for 2017. In fact, in the last four years, while our retail business has had pre-tax income of $30 million, Wayfair has lost $663 million: this is creating no small amount of margin compression. Because I do not want to watch this play out over years, I believe it is time for us to respond in kind. Thus, I am announcing that we are for the first time adopting the classic internet ‘growth strategy’ I have previously eschewed: high growth, negative GAAP net income, funded out of our negative cash conversion cycle. We have already turned on the jets, and will demonstrate this year that our growth engine is far more efficient.”

So that scared investors a bit, combined with the clear evidence that Overstock has been struggling to get web traffic in the face of this Wayfair competition, though they do note that they’ve seen good new customer growth to start 2018. And since it was the tzero offering and the blockchain investments that had investors excited and driving the shares up from $20 to $80 or so over the second half of 2017, it shouldn’t be terribly surprising that the delays in that tzero ICO and the weakness (and heavy future spending) in the core business, combined with the fact that they announced a new stock offering (and then canceled it after the stock started falling more sharply), all worked together for a really dramatic drop back down to the mid-$30s.

I don’t know what the future holds for tzero or the other Medici investments in blockchain that Overstock is making — I find Patrick Byrne fascinating, and I like his enthusiasm (though certainly wouldn’t endorse all the claims he makes), but he often seems too tempestuous to be running a public company.

But what it really comes down to is that the core Overstock online retail business does not interest me very much, even though I owned the stock for a while back in the mid-2000s and think they’ve done well to survive to this point (and have even bought a few things through them over the years). I don’t like Wayfair as an investment, either, and I suppose Overstock’s retail business has some appeal when compared with Wayfair… but the notion of both of them throwing money into a dumpster fire while Amazon sits back and thinks about taking over the furniture segment doesn’t strike me as very appealing.

So for me, this investment would be something like a venture capital investment in blockchain — and instead of paying someone a huge premium to manage your money, the entree to the venture capital fund is that you also have to buy a chunk of an ecommerce company, whether you want it or not. I suspect they’ll probably end up splitting the company and spinning off either Overstock or Medici at some point, particularly if the tzero offering ends well and they make some progress in actually building a viable exchange for cryptocurrencies and, later, for publicly traded stocks, but I’m not in a hurry to get involved today. And I don’t know the status of the SEC investigation, though tzero’s token offering seems quite reasonable and well-regulated compared to most of the ICOs I’ve seen.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks who like Overstock (including Tom Forte, the lone Wall Street analyst who covers the stock and who talked it up a lot a few months ago[6], and recently reiterated his $100 target), but I’ll bet most of that enthusiasm is pretty recent, and is based on hopes about the blockchain stuff, which means it’s subject to the fluctuating winds of blockchain sentiment. The most bullish person I’ve noticed on Overstock has been Mark Cohodes, the famed short seller who was a Patrick Byrne target back in those naked shorting days of 2005 or 2006 — he talked up Overstock at the Grant’s Interest Rate Observer conference last Fall[7], which got a lot of media attention[8] (and some raised eyebrows[9]). That was before the crypto-fueled spike and collapse, though as of a few days Cohodes still says[10] he owns and likes it.

I’ll watch from the sidelines for now, thanks… but it’s your money, what do you think? Will tzero soon have an exchange that makes a difference? Is Patrick Byrne tilting at windmills, or will he build something important on the blockchain? Is the retail business worth the big investment push they’re apparently going to make? Let us know with a comment below.

Have you checked out Robinhood yet? Free trading is great for investors just starting out... plus You and I can each earn a free share of stock right now if you open an account![11]

  1. Overstock’s latest quarterly presentation here:
  2. interview in American Banker back in January,:
  3. tzero token sale/ICO was delayed:
  4. investigated by the SEC:
  5. earnings press release:
  6. talked it up a lot a few months ago:
  7. talked up Overstock at the Grant’s Interest Rate Observer conference last Fall:
  8. got a lot of media attention:
  9. some raised eyebrows:
  10. Cohodes still says:
  11. You and I can each earn a free share of stock right now if you open an account!:

Source URL:

  1. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 04:26:34 pm

    Just like Casey and his “Fedcoin” from about a year ago. And the “God Key” of which all 3 stocks involved in that are down around 20-25% after peaking last month. Promises,promises. Wyoming may become the mecca for blockchain, but it won’t be anytime soon. These guys have to make 100 predictions to get one or two things right. Usually when a company deviates from its core business, it fails miserably. $2000 would make a nice down payment on a solid cardboard shack which you will be living in after making this bet.

    • 101
      Apr 5 2018, 04:38:44 pm

      Hey there yukonjack, I presume you either live in, or are from the Yukon. Spent five years there some time back…incredible country! Like you, I don’t think much of Blanco. His picks are less than pathetic, regardless of what it is he’s trying to push this week. As for the cardboard shack, hahahahaha! You can never take anything this joker says as a fact. Always the same rags to riches story, but that’s all it is…just a story, and not a very good one at that. Everyone needs to hang on to their $2,000 and do something useful with it. You know, like putting it out in the garden to see if the rain will make it grow!

    • Avatar
      Apr 5 2018, 05:12:27 pm

      I like your take on that. I’ve lost money with Agora, giving up on them about a year ago when they said Marijuana stocks was the next big thing . . . still waiting on that to materialize. So I did my own research on the crypto universe and found I could make 10 times the money I invested, no thanks to them.

      • 140 |
        Apr 9 2018, 12:03:09 am

        If anyone out there from the blockchain world that hasn’t figured out the marijuana dated game yet don’t miss this last vote we’ve been doing this since the first vote it’s a date game and knowing the bottom of the stock and when to get in at today’s prices aphria Aurora will keep the most skeptal happy until the summer vote which yes will pass canada signed contract with Shopify to have all marijuana purchases go threw there take advance of Shopify while there paying for facebooks screw up but if you want 10 years of experience with a group that has held certain for years to the final payouts this summer or take advantage of future farms under 45 cents 39 cents might have come and gone I’m sure you can get in this week between 41 cents and 44 cents they will peak at a minium of 2.35 and sell off first day they go red after the vote they are a lock. You can still get in on cannabis wheaton it’s a buy every time it drops to1.25 or less itwont drop under a dollar again that chance was November before Jan 1vote but the have a close to double peak this round now that all there startups contracts start to payoff withthe next30 days snooze and loose just a friendly suggestion easiest game to play no banks no bull check the crappiests of all stocks and see the spike over the last year jan. Future farms may bore you but a must buy in know last November they were a 20 cent buy in and the week of the vote most dump early play it safe in the game you can’t loose we all got outat1.32 they have become a profitable company and heavily invested and Dept free company will soar and you will have plenty of money for the blockchain guessing game any help is free and hope it betters your families lives

        • Avatar
          Lance A Jones
          May 14 2018, 07:03:32 pm

          Your comment content is OK, but maybe try and use a few more periods so it is readable. Difficult to follow without any punctuation. Thx

  2. Avatar
    pam day
    Apr 5 2018, 04:30:33 pm

    why not RIOT! Better yet 2 penny stocks…btsc and btcs! lots of volume,low prices..lows 1 cent…high.57 and .61.great reward,only trading fee and you are in control…unlike coinbase,poor service and it was hacked too and very high fees…good luck to all in your venture!There are othr penny stocks too….!

  3. 85 |
    Apr 5 2018, 04:37:04 pm

    You note, “…but Wyoming is certainly trying to lead the way in blockchain and has made a big effort to set up a legal structure that incentivizes blockchain companies and cryptocurrencies to work in Wyoming, ” Wyoming is pushing to be headquarters for large supercomputer groups. However just as “go figure” note, Wyoming has some weird banking laws so that a resident may not set up a Coinbase account. Wyoming and Hawaii are the only two States where Coinbase won’t operate.

  4. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 04:45:59 pm

    Thanks Travis for your expert analyses and research! You always save me so much money. I think I’ll take a long wait and see approach to this one.

  5. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 04:52:21 pm

    Take a look at Global Blockchain Technologies – quote “Global Blockchain’s blockchain subsibuary,,Inc (tZero)” also involved in the KodakOne Coin offering.

  6. 53
    Apr 5 2018, 04:56:34 pm

    If you want real venture capital investment in blockchain, get some EOS. Multiple VC firms and creator Block One have already pledged over a billion dollars to develop dApps on the EOS platform. It is extremely likely that many of those dApps will airdrop their own shares on EOS token holders, like has already been committed by Everipedia, a blockchain based Wikipedia competitor. EOS is by far my number 1 blockchain pick and think it will do well no matter what happens to bitcoin. EOS is like a blockchain based Android – a platform to launch thousands of commercially scalable dDapps, and owning EOS will allow you to collect shares in new companies. Ethereum cannot scale and is beyond repair

  7. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 05:02:28 pm

    After listening to Cohodes last October at the Grants conference I bought a bunch of OSTK around $39. Sol d half at $80 and stopped out the remaining 1/2 at $52. If only I could do that on a regular basis. Might be worth another shot if its down around $30 as I do believe his tzero will make it as one of the surviving cryptos which really go to town.
    As far as Blanco is concerned, this guy is the worst of all newsletter pushers I’ve ever read. Simply nauseating. He’s a joke.

  8. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 05:46:02 pm

    Thanks Travis – I saw the add, got the fever, but did not pluck down the 2 grand. And thankfully so! $2K for a recommendation to buy I would have promptly asked for a refund! Gumshoe saves the day again!

  9. 11 |
    Apr 5 2018, 05:53:42 pm

    Blockchain is an inventory system. It record every transitions as they happen. The reason it is so effective is that site of the transition sends information in blocks and not bits as they happen. The new system sends transitions much faster from 25,000 bits to 400,000 bits per second. Accounting on the fly. Complete management from the top down. Write a program on how you want the company to run tie it to blockchain and the operation becomes seamless. Mining is the security blanket that locks in every action. “No stocks” just Cryptocurrency to indicate valuation. That means no market manipulation. No shorting selling stocks. Also no divined just growth or failure.
    How can you evaluate a companies intention if you can’t analyze what the porous of their involvement will be. Old companies verses new startups.
    This is my own evaluation of what I have read so far. If this is right I can’t see how this system can be stopped. Just like the market you pays your money and takes your chances.

  10. 65 |
    Apr 5 2018, 06:53:31 pm

    Like usual, I have basically the same opinion as you. I thought block chain mania was over and overstock and wayfairer seem like redheaded step children next to Amazon, at best.

  11. Avatar
    Apr 5 2018, 07:11:11 pm

    I subscribe to Bianco affordable letter, I’m satisfied with it. I would never put $ 2,000 for a letter. Here is the last trick from Bonner and Partner to part you from your hard earned cash. I received an offer to subscribe to Near Future (also mentions OSTK, they all do it) for $ 74. Ok, gives me ideas. When you sign out, they come with many pages; WAIT you can do this, you can do that. I always skip. Then I receive my CC statement, that I scrupulously check, and I see another charge from Bonner for $ 100. I call them and they tell me that I subscribed to an Exponential Tech Investor letter that will renew for $ 1,995 in June. Non refundable! Be careful out there, they are desperate for your money.

  12. 255
    Apr 6 2018, 08:08:38 am

    Just amazing how a “blue eyed” stock such as OSTK can drop by 145% in just 3 months. Recall seeing an interview with the CEO then promising the sun, moon and stars on it. Trading well below 200MA with imminent “Death Cross” approaching (when 50MA crosses 200MA downwards). Anyone who invests in it now is either very ignorant, is smoking something or is not subscribed to StockGumShoe. Prime example of what Travis brings to the table – negating the lure to subscribe to the publications of less that ethical pundits.

  13. Avatar
    Apr 6 2018, 01:47:41 pm

    I believe Blockchain and cryptocurrency is here to stay. As in the early days of the internet, consumers are suspicious and don’t understand the vast implications. There will be losers, of course. But as with the internet, I believe there will be winners that will see an exponential curve in value. The winners will find genuine problems and needs in the world of monetary and contract transactions and solve them. Today’s human servicing element in virtually every financial transaction is slow, lacks precision and safety and is way too costly. Blockchain low hanging fruit is in the world of deal making and financial transactions. Think of all the credit card company service fees alone! Insurance c0. hand-filled forms, & real estate contracts to be simplistic, require human service participation and days or weeks of time, will someday very soon close on the spot with a mobile. BTW, if you are a lawyer, take heart… the need for lawyers experienced in IT increases in the future because the programmers of smart contracts will need consultations for making new kinds of contracts. Exciting stuff!

  14. Avatar
    Apr 9 2018, 02:17:37 pm

    I find GLNNF to be interesting!! Has a payment system that they developed, that is spreading thru out Canada and has just opened offices in NY, Calif. , and London!! Purchased a block chain company in Dec. and is down from $3+ to $.40 cents!! Developing and Crypto token to reward users using their system!! Several ways for this company to grow!

  15. Avatar
    Apr 17 2018, 06:05:41 am

    I think Global Blockchain is a better bet. They are based in Montana, at least their mining business is. They own Kodak coin also.

  16. Avatar
    Apr 21 2018, 03:22:19 pm

    The “Wyoming Stock Exchange” could be an oblique reference to an “off board” exchange. Global Blockchain is quoted on the Canadian Stock Exchange and not any TSX Main Board. It describes itself as “an investment company that provides investors access to a mixture of assets in the blockchain space” – and has just introduced a breakthough Laser Network

    “With a breakthrough technology called the Laser network, all blockchains can operate faster and with better anonymity. Best of all, they will be interoperable with other blockchains – which will accelerate the collective growth of and ability for all cryptocurrencies to work together.”

  17. Avatar
    May 13 2018, 11:33:46 am

    Thanks, Travis….you’ve got a subscriber after reading just 2 of your articles on Blanco. Such hype…I almost bought in 3 mos ago, but stopped myself…thank goodness! OSTK also caught mmy fancy after reading George Soros had invested $200m in their blockchain development. I got in and out…just not my kinda play.

  18. Avatar
    Jon Drake
    May 13 2018, 05:07:27 pm

    I read all of your reviews as soon as I get the You can Be a Millionnaire tomorrow speech
    I’ve spent a lot less useless money since I came across Gumshoe
    Thanks ❤️Your thoughts!!!

  19. 12880 |
    Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
    Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe
    Dec 18 2018, 11:43:31 am

    FWIW, I did start paying more attention to Overstock as it kept falling… but I didn’t buy it, and I still haven’t seen anything to like, and it has kept falling (now below $13). That’s partly because there’s no longer any blockchain enthusiasm in the stock market, not now that everyone is licking their bitcoin wounds, and partly because the ecommerce company still stinks.

    They still say they’re exploring a sale of the ecommerce business, but I doubt that will lead to much — my best guess is that it will be almost worthless — it doesn’t generate any income, and it isn’t growing, and the brand is old and tired, though there could always be a surprise bidder who wants to quickly get up to “almost relevant” scale… and meanwhile, tons of venture-funded startups are throwing money at different retail niches and Wayfair (W) is still expanding like crazy (and losing money, too, which makes them unappealing… but they are well capitalized and can probably lose money for a lot longer than Overstock can stay relevant).

    So OSTK is still really all about tZero and all the blockchain investments they made through Medici over the past year, on which we don’t get a lot of detail but it’s hard, frankly, to see them generating any enthusiasm in the near future… and they definitely won’t be generating any real revenue (or God forbid, income), so enthusiasm is their currency for the foreseeable future. Turning yourself into a blockchain investment vehicle has both rewards and consequences, as illustrated by OSTK’s chart since it really became, in investors eyes, a blockchain stock in the summer of 2017:

    That timing is a little arbitrary — Overstock started accepting bitcoin early in 2014, and Medici was launched later that year… so if you want to go further back, this is what the chart would look like:

    That can all change with blockchain/bitcoin sentiment shifts, of course, and maybe some great news will come, but there’s no fundamental support for this stock from earnings or from cash flow and I’m still not interested in making a venture capital blockchain bet on Patrick Byrne.

What These Icons Mean